Rule of Law – 2

‘I do not like blogging. It is most certainly not my thing.’ This is probably the thought that has come into my head the most as I try and plough through website after website, document after document, trying to get my head around the rule of law and its importance to the liberal democratic world order.
This week I began my in depth research, going through the dozen or so websites that were provided to me by my supervisor from the Rule of Law Institute. Each website provides various examples of the rule of law not being followed around the world. I feel I am getting sucked into a world in which I am going to become very frustrated with the way things are done, or in this case, not done.
I think it is important for this blog that I explain the basic principles of the rule of law. There are four basic principles that compromise the rule of law according to the World Justice Project (this website provided me with the best and probably the simplest description, so it is a good starting point). These four points are as follows:
1. Accountability
The government as well as private actors are accountable under the law.
2. Just Laws
The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.
3. Open Government
The processes by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient.
4. Accessible & Impartial Dispute Resolution
Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
These four principles together constitute working definition of the rule of law, developed in accordance with internationally accepted standards and norms. From these principles, I was able to quickly grasp the basic idea of the rule of law and begin to look at its implementation around the world. Now that I have gotten a basic grasp on the idea of the rule of law, it is now time to begin an analysis of the state of the rule of law world wide, focussing on Poland, the Philippines, China and the USA.

Assyrian Australian National Federation- Recognition of the Assyrian Genocide

When the deputy director told me that the organisation will definitely publish my piece on their new website, or transform it into a speech as a commentary for all the hard work and achievements of the organisation, I already felt a sense of accomplishment and definitely a lot of excitement. As a second generation Assyrian, I always knew I wanted to give back to my Assyrian community for the preservation of our Assyrian heritage and culture. So as I attended the first tutorial of History Beyond the Classroom, working with the Assyrian Australian National Federation was an instinct. The Assyrian Australian National Federation is a sector of the Assyrian Universal Alliance who have gone a long way in defending the Assyrian name and making representations of the Assyrian community in the State and Federal Parliaments of Australia. The organisation would like me to create a link on the new website they are making to discuss the Assyrian genocide of 1914, the unveiling of the Assyrian genocide monument, the NSW parliament’s recognition and the steps they continue to take for federal and international recognition. I know this project will be rewarding as I know I am going to acquire a great deal of knowledge whilst completing this project and I know this will be published for many people, including the youth, who can also be advocates of continuous unification of the Assyrian peoples and the continuous teachings of the Assyrian language, culture and history.

We’re a pack of Shamrocks

‘We’re a pack of Shamrocks, Shamrocks are we…’, this is the start of the team song that Shamrock Rugby players have sung for the past 50 years. The Woonona Shamrocks play at Ocean Park, an old garbage dump turned into the heart of rugby for the northern suburbs of Wollongong. Next year marks the clubs 50th anniversary in which I aim to capture the essence of what it means to be a Shamrock. On the journey so far to find the clubs history I have learnt the complexities of being a historian. The club itself has limited archives regarding the club’s history, the most valuable sources are a 25th-anniversary book and another by the Illawarra district Rugby Union (the competition the Shamrocks play in) which together form a general history of the club. From this, there are still massive holes in the clubs history with key information missing such as records of years the club didn’t perform well and major milestones such as the club’s first win.
When starting my research I went to the Wollongong library to find any resources on the club, they told me they had nothing and my best bet would be going to the local paper, the Illawarra Mercury. When I went to Illawarra Mercury’s office they told me they had nothing and that I should try the Wollongong library. I had now come to a dead end and after messaging the Illawarra District Rugby Union and other key people my investigating had come to a halt.
Every Thursday morning a group of old boys prep Ocean Park for the coming home game, doing tasks such as watering the grass and mowing the field. I was invited to come to join them and quickly learnt the real reason they met up was not just to the maintain the facilities but rather to catch up over a cuppa and talk about the one thing that connects them together, the love of rugby. Whilst sipping my tea and eating my third lamington I realized that the information I was looking for was right in front of me. When studying history at university you are often removed from the event being studied and almost recalling it as if it were a story. From seeing the old boys talk about their experiences with the club I realized that history and the people in history are real. While I had been trying to find sources in the library I had seemed to have forgotten the start of the team song that I had sung so many times, ‘We’re a pack of Shamrocks, Shamrocks are we…’, I had forgotten about the pack. The Shamrocks Rugby club has a rich history, even though statistics are important it is the individuals that make the club what it is and this is the history I want to be remembered.

The Young Man and the Hut

In truth, it’s really quite a small building. More of a shed, really. They call it ‘The Big Hut’.
You’ll find it at Fishermans Beach, tucked away on the north side of Long Reef headland, just off the main road as you drive through picturesque Collaroy. Scattered in the sand dunes around it, overgrown with grass and rusted by time, you’ll find the winch bases standing guard. And on a good day, with clear skies and the waves gently crashing on the rock platform, you can forget everything. And you can start to remember. You can start to create.
Fishermans Hut S.JPG
I’m working with Northern Beaches Council as part of a special program entitled Our Stories: Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow. Together with Bethany Falzon, Council’s Arts & Cultural Development Officer as well as the rest of the Social Planning & Community Development Team, we’re asking how much residents know about the unique place they call home. Our Stories aims to explore the fascinating heritage of the Northern Beaches and offer creative perspectives of engagement between communities, their location and their history.
I hope for my project to pose questions. About how, if at all, communities, local residents and others are engaging with the unique heritage stories at Fishermans Beach and Long Reef more broadly. About how heritage conservation has the dynamic potential to be built around historical storytelling, not just strict preservation ideals.
At the end of the day, stories are the driving force here. They are how we tell history; or, at least, how we’ll tell this history.
And this little Big Hut has so many stories to tell.


I have to admit, I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do for my project when we were first introduced to it.
There we all were on a Tuesday afternoon, sitting in a seminar room and listening to Mike talk about all the amazing things that past students had done – writing cookbooks, designing websites, making documentaries – and all that was going through my head was just pure nothing. Okay, maybe not just nothing. I was also injected with a healthy dose of fear and anxiety that made my eyes feel like they were going to bulge out of my head. I tried my best to hide it though. When Mike asked if we were all okay, I just smiled and nodded, trying to ignore the black hole that had suddenly appeared inside my brain, draining me of ideas and depositing them in a parallel universe.
When I got home that night, I called my boyfriend and curled up on my bed with my dinner. “I’m stuck,” I said, sadly shoveling forkfuls of pasta into my mouth. “Well,” he said, “There’s plenty of places you can start. What about a church? Or a cinema? Or a hospital –“
I froze mid-chew. A lightbulb has suddenly switched on inside my head. Hospital. Of course! It made complete sense. My mother had been a head nurse when we lived in Hong Kong, and I remember running through the corridors of her hospital as a kid. In the space of a few minutes, I had leapt up from my bed, grabbed my laptop and began an email to the first hospital I thought of: The Heritage Centre at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Conveniently located right next to university, the Centre is made up of three branches: the hospital museum, which exhibits medical instruments and other historical objects, the archives, which hold an insurmountable number of patient records and materials spanning from 1868 onwards, and the library, which contains a collection of medical texts from the 19th century, as well as histories of the hospital itself.
The next few days went by without a reply, but I still held back from emailing my other two preferences. There was something about this one that spoke to me, and I didn’t want to step away from it. I was so glad that I didn’t. A week later, I received an email from Scott Andrews, Manager of the Museum and Educational Facilities at the RPA, letting me know that he was available for a meeting to discuss the course and the project. Walking through the corridors of the RPA was a little nerve-wracking; the stark white walls and the shiny linoleum aren’t really conducive to calming down a small, anxiety-prone student. But stepping into the museum was like stepping into another world, separate from the body of the hospital itself. Black and white photos of nurses and doctors lined the walls, as well as wooden cabinets filled with old medical instruments. Scott greeted me, cheese toastie in hand, and began to guide me around the museum.
It turns out that I may have emailed the RPA at an optimal time. Scott has only been manager for the past two years, but in those two years he has made it his mission to reform the museum. “I want to give everything a narrative,” he kept on saying on our tour of the rooms, “Everything needs a story. Right now, there is no story.” And Scott was right. Though every instrument and piece of equipment had a fascinating history, the sheer amount of them, coupled with their organisation, overwhelmed visitors instead of speaking to them. He has made a variety of changes to the layout of the museum in the last two years, installing plaques and new cabinets, but he still has a lot of visions he wants to see out. “You’re our first ever student volunteer,” he told me, “Lucky for you, there’s a lot of things that you can do.”
In our meeting, we discussed everything from re-formatting the layout of the museum, to giving tours and printing out more plaques. Scott was delighted that I already had experience digisiting the archives at the Art Gallery of NSW, as the museum has a lot of documents and objects still unaccounted for on their database. Perhaps the most interesting project that Scott had in mind was the making of a huge timeline on the corridors of the hospital about the history of the institution. With my background in art and design, I knew for certain that this was a project that I could help him achieve.
As of now, there are still various forms and applications I need to fill out – you know, to prove I’m not a criminal. I am still frequently conversing with Scott over email, discussing the administrative aspects of my volunteering, as well as the online training I will need to complete before I start. Right now, I am sitting at my desk with books and pamphlets about the history of the RPA, some of which I have already started reading. I have no clue where this volunteering will take me, but one thing is for certain: I am filled with excitement for new beginnings.

The Heart of the Village – Pittwater Pharmacy

If you ever find yourself in Mona Vale Village on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, you will find there is one building in particular that stands out as a noticeable hub of activity. This building is Pittwater Pharmacy, owned by the same hard-working Italian family – the Papandreas – for almost 50 years.
In the first few weeks of this subject, I was encouraged to reflect upon where I belong and the communities that I consider myself a part of. As I reflected in my diary entry, I came to the realisation that I do not actually feel very connected anywhere, an epiphany I found quite distressing. I pondered this personal dilemma deeply, asking myself the question: “Where do I actually belong?”. It eventually came to me that while I may not be able to refer to Sydney as my ‘home’ with conviction, I nevertheless feel a sense of belonging whenever I am in Mona Vale. I grew up in Church Point, about a 15-minute drive north of Mona Vale, and the latter served as our local centre of sorts – when I was a child, I would find myself in Mona Vale regularly, whether it was spending a day at the beach, doing the grocery shopping or catching up with family friends.
When my parents moved back to New Zealand, they made the decision to purchase a unit in Mona Vale to serve as a base. Whenever my parents are in Sydney, I often spend time with them there, and have come to appreciate Mona Vale as a trendy, vibrant, friendly and laid-back community. Most importantly, it is a place I feel a connection to.
Pittwater Pharmacy features heavily in this connection, going back all the way to my birth, when Ralph Papandrea, the pharmacy’s founder and patriarch, used to give my mother advice on the best ointments and treatments for a newborn baby. ‘The Boys’, as we fondly call them, are a group of five Italian men, aged from 22 to 73, who work in this pharmacy and are almost like family to me. Everyone in Mona Vale knows and loves the Pittwater Pharmacy – not only do they have time for everyone and deliver unparalleled personable service, but their charitable contributions and pro bono community work are renowned throughout the village.
For example, Ralph Papandrea continues to work every Wednesday in order to provide older members of Mona Vale’s Italian community with free medical advice in their native tongue. In my family, we refer to this as ‘Wacky Wednesdays’ – you know to steer clear of the pharmacy on these days because the line of customers goes out the door! The family also provides assistance and funding for local charity events and organisations, and regularly makes generous donations to the local Catholic Church.
I have often wondered how the Papandreas came to run their small, bustling pharmacy in the heart of Mona Vale. Although the pharmacy has a website, there is virtually no information about its history. Therefore, I plan to start off by interviewing members of the Papandrea family and generating transcripts in order to document their migration to Sydney’s Northern Beaches and the work they have done for the community since the 1970s. I will then conduct research into the role the business has played in Mona Vale’s local history by investigating resources from the Northern Beaches Council’s archives.
Finally, I would like to either design and publish an informative brochure or create an addition to the pharmacy’s website that will amalgamate these elements. If I decide to produce a brochure, this can be made available at the pharmacy so that its many customers will have the opportunity to read about its history and form a better understanding of the role the family has played in shaping the community.
My ultimate wish is to give back to a family that has given myself and the local community so much by making their numerous and diverse contributions visible to the public they selflessly care for.

A History of Cricket Artefacts

The St George District Cricket Club has an incredibly rich history spanning over 100 years. The club was founded in 1911 and lays claim to the greatest batsman to ever grace the game, Sir Donald Bradman. In total, the club has had 13 of its playing members go on to represent Australia in test cricket and 49 players who have represented New South Wales.
My interest in the club has stemmed both from my involvement as a player as well as my family connection with the club. I have found the club to have such a fascinating history, with so many stories to be told from over a century of cricket. I have met up with the club President and mayor of the Georges River council Kevin Greene and also with author/historian Ronald Cardwell who have both been very helpful.
I have begun some cataloguing work with the club which has involved collating items such as team photos, team caps, team ties, shields, trophies, signature bats, books, and commemorative items among many other things into an excel document. Through this process it has become abundantly clear that these gentlemen have forgotten more about these items than I will ever know. Their memories and historical insight have so far been invaluable to the work that has been completed. Due to many historical books and annual reports, it has been fairly easy to locate information surrounding particular pieces that would have otherwise been very difficult to find.
I have been meeting up on a regular basis with Mr Cardwell to sort through these items in the cabinets of the Booth Saunders Pavilion (named after the two patrons of the club, Brian Booth and Warren Saunders) at Hurstville Oval. We hope to have collected all the necessary data within the next week at which point we will be able to put together a report of our work.

History in my Community

Working with the Ku-Ring-Gai Historical Society has so far been an absolute joy.
History, of course, is one of my strongest passions. Growing up, it was not only major events in history such as wars and politics that intrigued me but also the “little things” of history; ordinary people, doing ordinary things; which is what I believe to truly define and make history. Things like exploring random historical houses or reading stories of certain soldiers during the wars has always fascinated me.
But of course, history in university and at an academic level always focusses on the big picture events, people, and eras. This is why this course seemed perfect for me- a chance to see how history plays out with these ordinary people.
My local history has also been so fascinating to me- I have numerous books that are full of stories and pictures of my local area in times gone by- and I love to spend hours at a time going through these just in awe at how things have changed for the people of Ku-Ring-Gai over the years, including the shocking sight of just a single car on a dirt Pacific Highway many decades ago! After all, it is these people, rather than the politicians or the elite, that have shaped my area and made it the reason it is today.
However, to my absolute joy, these stories may not be well known or famous by any means but are definitely far from forgotten! The Ku-Ring-Gai Historical society was first created in 1963 by the councils mayor, growing to over 600 members throughout its first 50 years. The work it does for our community is unparalleled; studying the history and times of the area with a massive collection of information, photographs, and other significant documents all available because of the dedication and hard work of the members. I had always known of the group, as they have a small display of local history images and stories on display at my local Gordon Library- a heritage building itself that use to be a school! And being the history nerd I am, I loved checking out this small exhibit every time I was at the library (usually to pick up a history or historical fiction book!), and even when the exhibit remained unchanged for months at a time, I still loved to look at it.
Thus, I contacted the group via their website and was extremely happy with the response. A lovely member, Neil, was keen to meet up with me and so we did, with another member, and I was very excited to meet another young person who was active in the group for their own historical interest- and the society was definitely very excited to have us, and their member base is predominantly older as you can imagine. We went over the course, and they were very insistent that I select my project first and they would comply with whatever I chose!
So the next week I started going Tuesday morning to get a better idea of the society. Here, I watched the team in action and saw how their standard Tuesday worked. I was shown their archives, photo collection, and both very classic technology as well as new technology, including a google-earth-type website which gave information on land allotments and allowed you to compare birds-eye-view of your street, or anywhere, with a 1943 image of the same (when my house was just bushland!). Another woman was using these images and archives in a personal mission to save a few historical houses in the area- such an amazing example of the Society in action in our community!
I am so impressed with the group- who have, after less than a month, completely shaped my understanding of history in the community; it is not just people’s personal interest but the society’s services are used by residents and businesspeople, as well as the council, to understand and learn more about the area and in particular, the Family History wing of the Society.
A major interest of mine is the World Wars; being a source of great pride of our nation, as well as something I feel needs to be forever remembered and in everyone’s scope of awareness. The Society is well sourced on that- Neil showed me some amazing books that members had put together; 4 volumes of books commemorating the service of Ku-Ring-Gai residents throughout World War I. Of course, my project will ideally be something that is highly beneficial to this group too; I am thinking either along the lines of WWII history or rather the history of the less-obvious people active in WWI and WWII- such as women, children, and others who found their own ways to serve on the home Front. I will discuss this, along with some other ideas, with the members this Tuesday and see how we go
I am still figuring out if a project like this would be adequate, or if I should be focusing on more the history of the society itself- but so far so good, and even though this course has been challenging so far I am learning so much along the way; I am so encouraged through the society’s work that I think this will push me to continue when it gets more stressful, and it is so worth it! I see a long future ahead for me and the Society.

Pope in the Museum


The Australian Museum before its contemporary architectural reconceptualization

The Australian museum sits on the corner of College St and William St. A colonial monolith overlooking the leafy boulevards of Hyde Park, and beyond that, Sydney’s crowded wall of skyscrapers. The museum has a resolute squareness, reiterated by the pockmarked sandstone blocks that constitute its thick and impressive walls. Clad in a contemporary armor of shinning glass and commercial billboards, the museum’s original steeped roof peaks out, still visible. This roof is evocative of the museum’s role as a mega-house—home to ancient fossils, sparkling gemstones and taxidermied Australian wildlife carefully stitched into time.
Many of us brought to museums as children, can if prompted, tap into the imaginative richness of museum spaces. The sacredness that is attached to objects put behind glass permeates the rest of the museum—this is a space of superstition, of discovery, of life and death. This reverent atmosphere, perpetuated by the likes of Night at the Museum (clearly a cinematic marvel), foregrounds the museum’s role as holder of old stuff—irreplaceable stuff—stuff that is meaningful because it informs us of who we are (should those objects be dragged out of storage and brought into the unbearable light of being).
And that’s where the fantasy becomes more complicated—because often, museums in Australia fail to capture public imagination. And this might lead us to question whether the Australian Museum’s heritage as an ‘institution’ deters people from seeing its vibrancy and currency. Kathleen McLean draws on characterisations of museums as knowledge fortresses. But these are fortresses being torn apart by a battling curatorial/public division or “expert-novice polarity”, and the new(ish), far more dynamic AGE OF INFORMATION (i.e the internet).
When I visit the Australian Museum, I am tucked away in a snug corner where chatty librarians and loyal volunteers stop for tea and ginger biscuits on the hour, and it begs the question, is this a museum where a dynamic flow of information and vibrant public discussion is possible? How different is the museum from the university when it comes to going beyond the classroom?
My project with the Australian Museum (so far) will focus on the archive of Elizabeth Pope (1912-1993). Elizabeth Pope was a marine biologist who rose through the ranks to become the first female deputy director of the Australian Museum in 1971. Her career and her scientific ambition stand-out as significant. She began working at the museum at a time when women were expected to leave the workforce once married. On fieldtrips throughout her life she traversed the eastern coastline of Australia, paying attention to the rocky-shore and other sea-life minutia in ways that exceeded the attempts of many of her European male predecessors.
Many of her scientific reports in the archive contain black and white photographs of the sites she surveyed in Australia. This ‘scientific’ photographic archive contains the occasional portrait of Pope with her trousers rolled to the knee and her hair mussed by sea breezes. Her scientific endeavors breached the professional divide between work and leisure, and for me, they speak to a quintessentially Australian way of life.
Elizabeth Pope
Photographer: A nursing sister of the N.T. Medical Service © Australian Museum
Pope’s role in the museum, and in other public spheres, relates directly to the structure of History Beyond the Classroom. Pope was a professional who was required to reach beyond the walls of the museum to engage with broader public interests and scientific endeavours. One of her most notable outputs was Australian Seashores (1952). Written by Professor W.J. Dakin, Pope and her colleague Isobel Bennett (only ever acknowledged as ‘assistants’) were charged with seeing the book come to fruition after Dakin died in 1950. It was the most comprehensive book published about the Australian sea life on the rocky shore and was reprinted 12 times.
Interestingly, Pope’s memorialisation has been less resounding than that of her contemporary Isobel Bennett. Bennett was a self-taught marine biologist, who through determination and a bit of luck carved herself a lasting legacy in the marine biology world. And to me, it begs the question, why? Is it because Bennett was more publically engaged than Pope? Is it because Aussie nostalgia has favoured Bennett’s story of rags to riches—a story that feeds off unfettered optimism and a belief in the fair go? Was her intellectual output more impressive, or more useful? Did people simply like her personality better? Or was it because Pope’s position inside the museum cut her off from public memorialisation?
Whatever the reason, my project intends to draw Pope’s legacy out from the shelves of the museum into a useable form—in ways that are hopefully engaging, and maybe even fun.
As explored by Anna Clark in Public History, Private Lives, public history is about personal connection—its selfish. People are more connected to events and people and places that they themselves have experienced or feel some intangible link to. Thus, a potential direction for bringing relevancy to Pope’s work is to reconnect it with the places she based it in—especially the ones located in Sydney. I think her photo archive will offer me an ‘in’ here. The audience I am considering is of course the community of working scientists that may be interested in the story of a key player in their own history, as well as a more general public interested in an adventurous woman who contributed valuable knowledge to how we understand seashores in Australia.